AP, New Mexico governor reach settlement over access to public records

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Gov. Susana Martinez has agreed to release monthly reports that detail the spending of security officers who travel with her, part of an agreement reached with The Associated Press in a public records case.

Under the settlement, the governor's attorneys agreed that the information in the procurement card reports relates to public business and falls under New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act.

The news organization sued the governor and administration agencies in 2013 for refusing to release records about her work and travel schedules, cellphone calls, and the expenses of her security detail. The parties filed papers Tuesday to dismiss the original lawsuit.

While a state district judge ruled in a separate case that Martinez's calendars were not public record, the governor's office agreed to provide the procurement card reports — similar to credit card statements — for a three-month period in 2012. Some information, such as account numbers, names, and arrival and departure dates, was redacted for security reasons.

"The Associated Press is committed to making sure we get access to information that is available publicly, and we feel this agreement helped us achieve that goal," said West Editor Traci Carl, who oversees news for 13 states west of the Rocky Mountains.

The governor's office said in a statement Tuesday that it was pleased with the outcome of the case.

"The AP is acknowledging the very real concerns relating to the governor's security, the statutory responsibility of the State Police to protect her and her right to be free from harm," spokesman Enrique Knell said. "We've been very transparent with information relating to the governor's travel and calendar, without jeopardizing her security."

The AP sought records on Martinez's travel, schedule and expenses as she took a higher profile on the national political stage, including several out-of-state trips and a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention.

The AP lawsuit alleging violations of the Inspection of Public Records Act targeted actual expense reports and receipts filed by security officers, along with timesheets and other documents indicating when or why officers filed for overtime in the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

The administration initially released only aggregate tallies of expenses and overtime, arguing at the time of the request that releasing documents such as procurement card statements could create a security risk for the governor.

In response to the request for her work calendars in 2012, the governor's office initially released a listing of her speaking engagements and other public appearances. The AP objected, and the governor's office said notes or materials regarding preliminary or tentative appointments or meetings were not public records.

The lawsuit was among multiple complaints filed by media and watchdog groups against Martinez, who has promoted herself as a strong advocate of a transparent government.

The governor's office has described the administration as the "most transparent in state history" and has contended that some of the requested information, such as the governor's personal and campaign calendars, has nothing to do with state business and is outside of the scope of the Inspection of Public Records Act.

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